Fisichella performance lifts Benetton

The Benetton team was encouraged by Giancarlo Fisichella's strong run to ninth place in the French Grand Prix

Fisichella performance lifts Benetton

Both drivers had struggled all weekend, with Fisichella qualifying 14th and team-mate Alex Wurz back in 17th. The latter slid into the gravel and out of the race with an over-ambitious, yet entertaining, move on Jean Alesi into the Lycee. However, Fisichella drove hard throughout to recover from a slow start and tag onto the battle for seventh between Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jenson Button by the end of the race.

"Certainly in race trim we appear to be equal with Jordan and Williams," said technical director Pat Symonds. "What we must do is address our qualifying problems. We were further compromised by both cars making poor starts.

"However, after this we modified our strategy and this allowed Giancarlo to show how competitive the car can be with fuel in it. Alex's race finished with an unfortunate incident but these sort of things are to be expected if you want to make any progress through the field."

Wurz, who is fighting for his Formula One future in the knowledge he will be almost certainly be out of Benetton for 2001, blamed his accident on the frustration of having to fight through the field.

"I was stuck behind Alesi, who was really quite slow," he explained. "The car was really hard to drive but I thought I would just have to go for it if I wanted to get past Alesi.

"Unfortunately my brakes locked and I ended up in the gravel."

Benetton still retains third place in the constructors' standings, albeit with its lead over Williams reduced to a mere point.

"I think we made the most of a difficult weekend," added team boss Flavio Briatore.

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